Carey and Kauffman Win High School Fishing National Championship

Carey and Kauffman Win High School Fishing National Championship

ANDERSON, S.C. – On one hand, Trent Carey of York Springs, Pennsylvania, and Josh Kauffman of Marysville, Pennsylvania, knew how difficult it would be to top a field containing 249 of the country’s best teams at the Abu Garcia High School Fishing National Championship. As Carey said on stage Friday, “that just doesn’t happen; you don’t get these opportunities.”

But as the Fishaholics team made the drive from their home in Pennsylvania to Lake Hartwell earlier in the week, they had a feeling they could contend for the title. In fact, Kauffman set his sights on winning not only the National Championship but the accompanying World Finals, a concurrent event held by the Student Angler Federation.

“To our knowledge, I don’t think anybody has ever won nationals and worlds,” Kauffman said. “And coming down here, I thought to myself, you know what, that’s our goal. I want to win both.”

The two recently graduated seniors punctuated a strong three days on Hartwell with a three-bass limit Friday weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces. That brought their three-day total to 29-15, 1-4 clear of Lanier High School’s Angel Cornejo and Bryson Dover.

For the win, Carey and Kauffman earned $5,000 apiece in college scholarship money plus entry into the Toyota Series Championship on Wheeler Lake in November, where they will compete as co-anglers.

Link to Photo of 2024 High School Fishing National Champions – Pennsylvania’s Fishaholics Bass Club
Link to Video of Day 3 Championship Weigh-in from High School Fishing National Championship
Link to Photo Gallery from Day 3 Championship Weigh-in

“I wish I could put it into words, but I can’t comprehend that we just did this,” Carey said. “It feels amazing that all the hard work paid off.”

Carey and Kauffman’s optimism about contending on Lake Hartwell sprang from the last time the famed fishery hosted the National Championship and World Finals, in 2021. Freshmen at the time, they finished 13th in the World Finals and fell in love with the lake. They’ve returned to fish it every summer since.

The knowledge gained during those trips proved invaluable this week. They arrived at Hartwell with a sizable stash of offshore waypoints, then added more during practice. With 437 boats on the water between the two tournaments, having so many spots at their disposal came in handy.

“With a 400-plus boat field out here, there are people on a lot of spots 24/7,” Kauffman said. “So, running down the lake, you’re like, ‘Oh, they’re there, they’re there. Oh, this spot is open.’ So, just having a large amount of spots to fish really helped. Just running waypoint after waypoint after waypoint all day long; eventually ran into the right ones at the right time when they’re schooling, actively feeding.”

Carey and Kauffman spent all their time offshore targeting brush and humps. While they weighed four largemouth compared to two spotted bass across the first two days of competition, Friday’s bag was all spots. They used “traditional herring baits” to catch them, rotating between a chrome Sebile Magic Swimmer, a flutter spoon and a rising bait. They only caught one fish they weighed on a fluke, but the Hartwell staple produced their biggest bass of the week, a 4-11 spot on Day 1.

That fish anchored a 12-2 opening-day bag, which had Carey and Kauffman in second place (although they thought they were leading at the conclusion of weigh-in due to a clerical error that excluded a 12-8 limit from the National Championship results). Despite losing a “giant” when a treble hook pulled off a split ring, they added 8-10 on Day 2 and climbed into the lead.

Friday, while most of the field reported a slower bite, Carey and Kauffman arrived at their starting spot to find fish actively feeding. While Carey said their bite wasn’t fast and furious, it didn’t take too long to put a similar limit to the previous day in the livewell. Then, around noon, Carey caught a 2 3/4-pounder, which culled a 2-pounder. At that point, the teammates let themselves believe they might actually be national champs.

“Whenever we caught that one, we both just kind of looked at each other, and we were like, ‘dude, I got a feeling,’” Carey said. “I’m always the most nervous person, the most down person, ‘we’re never going to win.’ And we kind of just looked at each other, and we’re like, this feels right. This feels like it might happen.”

Carey and Kauffman both plan to continue their fishing careers. Carey will join the accomplished team at Lander University in the fall, while Kauffman plans to keep competing in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League. Topping such a massive field should send both off with a shot of confidence.

“It’s a huge jumpstart to any career winning a tournament of this caliber, winning a tournament with this number of boats,” Carey said.

The 2024 Abu Garcia High School Fishing National Championship featured 249 teams, and the top 10 teams on Lake Hartwell finished:

1st: Rock Proof – Trent Carey, York Springs, Pa., and Josh Kauffman, Marysville, Pa., nine bass, 29-15
2nd: Georgia High School Fishing – Angel Cornejo, Sugar Hill, Ga., and Bryson Dover, Buford, Ga., nine bass, 28-11
3rd: South Forsyth High School, Cumming, Ga. – Reece Mutter and Charles Roberts, nine bass, 26-11
4th: Dawson County High School, Dawsonville, Ga. – Carter Cunningham and Landon Glander, nine bass, 26-10
5th: Cherokee High School, Canton, Ga. – Noah Dzyuba and Lane Parker, nine bass, 25-11
6th: Alcoa Fishing Team, Alcoa, Tenn. – Walker Larue and Joe Vaulton, nine bass, 25-7
7th: Arizona High School Bassmasters – Dash Dawson, Chandler, Ariz., and James Murphy, Jr., Gilbert, Ariz., nine bass, 24-15
8th: Shelby County High School, Columbiana, Ala. – Brody Holliman and Aiden King, nine bass, 24-7
9th: Highland Park High School, University Park, Texas – Cullum Brown and Dylan Sorrells, nine bass, 24-6
10th: West Virginia Student Angler Federation – Micah Osborne, Clay, W.Va., and Luke Stewart, Procious, W.Va., nine bass, 24-4

Complete results for the entire field can be found at